By Ed Attwood
Qatari organisers promise to refund hundreds of fans locked out of final by security measures
Organisers of the Asian Cup have apologised to hundreds of fans who were locked out of the final in Qatar, despite holding valid tickets, after security guards denied them entry.
The local organising committee has said it will refund the estimated 700 ticket-holders who were left outside the 40,000-seat Khalifa Stadium when gates were locked 55 minutes prior to kick-off due to the attendance of several VIPs.
In a statement to Arabian Business, organisers urged fans to get in touch for ticket refunds.
“We apologize to fans that were not able to enter the Final Match and have decided in conjunction with the AFC to refund all ticket-holders who have been denied access to the venue due to Security Closure of Gates,” the committee said.
“Please see the detailed process at tickets.afcasiancup.com for applying for refunds and – as always – please do not hesitate to contact the QLOC at email@example.com for any further inquiries you may have.”
Refund applications will be considered between 3-28 February.
The Asian Cup had been billed as a dress rehearsal for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, but led to a storm of criticism from fans – some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles for the event.
Sameh Abu Assi, who had driven nearly 1,600km from Saudi Arabia, told newswire CP he had spent $2,000 on hotels and tickets.
"We should be allowed to enter," he said. "How do they expect to organize the 2022 World Cup? They can't even organize this."
Comments posted on the Arabian Business website also suggested that the authorities had deliberately misrepresented the number of fans who had been locked out of the game.
“I was there at gate J5, there were at least 350 people there with tickets and were denied entry, I know this because I was one of them,” one poster identifying himself as Aaron wrote. “And I know that there were people complaining at each and every gate.”
The current political climate in the Middle East does not lend itself to V.I.P.'s taking priority over punter's who've waited their turn and paid for their own tickets... only to be superseded by functionairies.
There are some things that money - and apologies - can't buy, and I don't think fobbing-off paying ticket holder's with refunds is going to go down very well.
This needs to be corrected.
Welcome World Cup 2022....
It's not only on tickets people spent money on to watch the finals. How about the thousands they spent on airfare and hotel accomodations? And you think this inspires people to come and attend the World Cup? Count me out.
If this is the case, what will happen during the World Cup when VIPs from across the region want to attend matches?
Cannot see international football fans accepting an apology and the offer of a refund.
Preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world has to start now.
there was at least 3,ooo fans that did not get in, and qatar thinks that saying sorry will be ok. This place will have no chance in the world cup can you imagine Real football fans from all over the world standing for this kind of organization there will be all out riots.
Qloc should come out and say not only why there was bus loads of workers being placed in the stadium 2 hrs before KO but why was there no communication between the so called organizers and the police outside the stadium.
if qatar cannot organize 1 small final how does it intend to organize a world cup? The answer is obvious THEY CAN'T.
here we go again it was the same at the Asian Games, VIP before the masses...well count me out of 2022 I would rather spend my money in a country that really cares about football not one who wants to tell the world they can host the world cup
At least one free ticket to a 2022 game plus a couple nights' accommodations would be more in line with adequate redress.
Refunds alone are legal and moral rights.
I was at Gate I5 and there were must have been around 2,000 people near the gate waiting to get in. We saw them letting the last people through to the game. As a non-Japanese or Australian, I was disappointed, but it must be have horrific for the fans of either team who couldn't support their country.
An absolute joke. There was certainly plenty of anger and tension, and understandably so.
So lets see - they sold the tickets, but due to security concerns (what...overcrowding...what security issues?) they closed the gates before they had admitted hundreds of fans with valid tickets - thus implying that the organisers had totally miscalculated the capacity of the venue, as regards maintaining safety and security, or they had knowingly sold more tickets than the capacity of the venue.
Either way, this is a totally unacceptable situation, and one that must foster doubts about the ability of the organisers and security staff with regard to the 2022 event.
They must identify the cause of this mess and take real measures to prevent it happening again, let alone for the World Cup, as that would be a complete embarrassment to the country and its citizens.
The usual mess. I attempted to attend the Emirs Cup final a couple of years back with a valid ticket and was unable to get into the stadium due to the security blocking us. Again, thousands of valid ticket holders told to go home.
The truth has been muted about Qatar and its bid. The weather is not 40 degrees in the summer, try 55 and 100% humidity where only lunatics go outside for any longer than 5 minutes.
The idea that Qatar has 7 city locations for the stadium is laughable. So 'cities' wouldn't be classified as villages. 40,000 seater stadium with a local populus of 400? Erm!?
The concept of seating within stadiums having seat numbers is barely on the radar there, 12 years is a long time for a lot of places but time moves so slowly in Qatar that they'd need 25 years to get this together.
How come Qatar got the WC even though they have NEVER even qualified in the past!?